Members of the 2016 graduating class of Purdue North Central will likely not soon forget their graduation ceremony, and not just because it represents the culmination of their years of work and dedication, but because this year’s ceremony was truly unique and several years in the making.
Held inside the newly-added James B. Dworkin Student Activities and Athletics Complex, this year’s graduation marks the first time since 1971 that PNC has held their Commencement Ceremony on campus, and also the last one before PNC merges with Calumet to become Purdue Northwest later this summer.
This Commencement also marks the retirement of Dr. James B. Dworkin, Chancellor, Purdue University North Central. Dr. Dworkin steps down from his position as chancellor, but will stay on at Purdue to continue to lend his knowledge toward enriching the lives of students both young and old who choose Purdue as their educational home.
Dr. Dworkin led the ceremony, announcing fellow speakers, including Ms. Katie Eaton, Ms. Therese R. Davis and Ms. Madelaine E. Miller. This year’s commencement saw the awarding of diplomas to a grand total of 556 graduates, including 501 Bachelors Degrees, 36 Associates Degrees and 19 Masters of Business Administration.
“Don’t think that your education concludes tonight,” Dr. Dworkin told the graduates. “In reality, the next stage of your education begins right now. Some of you will go on to grad school. Others have jobs waiting for you already. All of you can look forward to lives of learning, where asking questions and gathering knowledge are part of a lifelong journey.”
Dr. Dworkin quoted Thomas Edison, saying, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.”
One particular graduate received special recognition for doing just that. Hayley Scott traveled a long road towards getting her degree, and was nominated by the Dean’s Secretary for her dedication towards continuing her education, despite years of setbacks.
“This has taken me 12 long years to achieve,” said Scott. “I tried… I enrolled and took classes, but between personal life, kids and other things, I wasn’t able to finish at first, and had to come back.”
Scott credits the staff at PNC for helping her to finally achieve her dream of earning a diploma.
“This is a smaller college. The professors get to know you better. They’re always willing to help if you’re stuck on something and need a little extra help learning. They have an open-door policy. They’re just the best.”
Scott received her degree in accounting and is looking forward to starting her new job next week, working for the State of Indiana.
Marie Foster, Senior Director of Advancement at PNC has unbridled enthusiasm for the college.
“Now, with the merger, we’ll be able to do more, to reach more students. This gives us the ability to reach out to more people and to help them achieve their goals,” said Foster. “This class is going down in history as the last face of Purdue North Central. They are very involved, going out and assisting in schools, in hospitals. Now that we’re merging, we will be able to access more resources than ever.”
Foster pointed out the new building as example.
“This building, this Great Hall, the gymnasium, the fitness center… there’s so much here. This shows the growth of the university. With this $30 million dollar expansion, we will be able to offer so much more to our students and to the community. This is over 10 years in the making, and it’s wonderful to be able to be here, to hold our first graduation here on campus in over 40 years,” said Foster.
The new expansion isn’t even officially open yet, Foster tells us, with a grand opening ceremony for VIPs slated for next week, but the students didn’t seem to mind, filing into the new Great Hall meeting area, where they were met with a buffet of pizza, salad and cake, while the giant screen in the back of the room played pre-recorded video clips, made by the graduates, in which they gave thanks to their families and loved ones who made their achievement possible.
The 2016 Commencement Ceremony at PNC may have been the last of an era, but it only served to demonstrate the great potential there can be in change – both for the students, as well as for the new Purdue Northwest itself.